Commemorated on October 24
How much consolation is contained in just the name of this Icon – awakening, strengthening the people’s faith in the Mother of God, as a wondrous helper, who hastens everywhere where the groan of human suffering is heard, who wipes away the tears of those who mourn, and in sorrow itself, bestows moments of delight and heavenly joy. Rejoice always, O Heavenly Joy of all who Sorrow.
In accordance with the faith of the people in the loving kindness of the Mother of God toward the human race, it has been customary to depict the Theotokos in a way which conforms to what is heard in the words of the prayer: “O Most Holy Sovereign Lady Theotokos, you are higher than all the Angels and Archangels, and more honorable than all creation. You are the helper of the oppressed, the hope of the hopeless, the aid of the poor, the consolation of the grieving, the nourisher of the hungry, the clothing of the naked, the healing of the sick, the salvation of the sinful, the help and succor of all Christians.”
Therefore, the Mother of God is depicted in full stature, sometimes with the Divine Child in her arms (as in the Moscow prototype), sometimes without the Child (as in the Icon with coins, which was glorified in St. Petersburg on July 23, 1888. She is surrounded by all sorts of distressed people – the naked, the offended, and the hungry. Around these poor unfortunates Angels are often depicted, sent by the Sovereign Lady to alleviate human suffering. The Angels, coming close to the people, point to the Mother of God, who is depicted on the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icons, either in glory, with a crown on her head and in royal vesture, or in the usual garments of her earthly sojourn, and in a white cloth on her head.
In Moscow, in the XVII century, a certain Icon of the Mother of God of this name became famous. The first miracle occurred in 1688 for the ailing Euphemia, the sister of Patriarch Joachim, who lived on Ordynka. She experienced terrible suffering from a wound in her side. This wound was so great that her intestines were visible. The patient was waiting for death, but at the same time, she did not lose hope in Divine help. One day, after asking to partake of the Holy Mysteries, she began to cry out to the Most Holy Theotokos with great faith: “Hear me, All-Merciful Sovereign Lady! The entire world boasts of you, and all receive your abundant mercies. I deserve to be punished for my iniquities, but do not punish me in your wrath. Behold my harsh infirmity, and have mercy on me.”
After this prayer, the patient heard a voice: “Euphemia, in your suffering, why do you not resort to the universal Healer of all?”
Astonished by the voice Euphemia replied, “Where may I find such a Healer?”
The answer came: “There is an image of me in the church of my Son’s Transfiguration, called “Joy of all who Sorrow.” It stands on the left side in the trapeza, where the women usually stand. Summon the priest from that church to come to your house with the Icon, and when he has served a Moleben with the Sanctification of Water, you shall receive healing. Do not forget my mercy toward you, and proclaim it for the glorification of my name.”
When Euphemia recovered from the excitement of this vision, she learned from her relatives that in the church of the Transfiguration, on Ordynka, there really was a “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon of the Mother of God, so she summoned the priest to come to her house with the Icon. After serving a Moleben with the Sanctification of Water, Euphemia was healed on October 24, 1688. Later, a Feast was established in honor of this Icon in remembrance of her healing which took place on this day.
Some think that the original “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon of the Mother of God was brought to St. Petersburg, to Princess Natalia Alekseevna, and that it is precisely the image that stands in the Sorrowful Church, on Shpalerna. However, it is more probable that the original Icon remained in Moscow.